DISCRIMINATION AND HARRASSMENT
POLICY PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT
Mount St. Mary’s College ("the College") is committed to maintaining a professional and collegial working environment that respects the dignity of each individual. The College prohibits any form of discrimination or harassment because of race, color, religious creed (except as permitted by law), national origin, ancestry, sex (with or without sexual conduct), sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth, age, physical or mental disability, medical condition, protected activity (i.e., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in the statutory complaint process) or other characteristics protected under federal, state or local law. Violation of this policy may result in discipline, up to and including discharge (in the case of faculty or staff) or expulsion (in the case of a student).
Rights Regarding Harassment and Discrimination
Students, faculty, and staff have the right to work and learn free from unwanted sexual advances or other forms of improper sexual conduct or other forms of harassment. In both obvious and subtle ways, the very possibility of sexual assault or harassment can be deeply destructive to individual members of our community. Members of our College community have the right to work and learn in an environment that is free from verbal or physical sexual conduct which might either interfere with an individual's performance, or create a work or educational climate that is hostile, intimidating, or offensive, whether that conduct originates with an instructor, student, colleague, supervisor, co-worker, or a peer. Hazing as part of a club or group activity may be subject to charges of harassment as well.
Primary responsibility for maintaining high standards of conduct resides with faculty and supervisors, since they exercise significant authority and power over others. If the highest standards of conduct are to be maintained, however, all members of the campus community should understand that sexual advances, sexual comments, or other forms of harassment or intimidation by any member of the college community (faculty, staff, or student) toward another may constitute improper conduct.
Because of the imbalance of power and the special need for trust inherent in the teacher/student relationship, a romantic or sexual advance by an instructor to a student in her/his class or academic program may seriously compromise that relationship and may therefore be presumed to be professional misconduct. Similarly, an advance made by a supervisor to an employee may be seen as unprofessional conduct when the potential for coercion or exploitation is present.
Unlawful Harassment and Discrimination
Unlawful harassment includes slurs, insults, jokes, and ridicule and other verbal or physical conduct relating to an individual’s race, ethnicity, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth, age, physical or mental disability, medical condition, protected activity (i.e., action seeking to invoke the procedures of this policy) or other characteristic protected under federal, state or local law, which has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work/academic performance, creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working/learning environment or otherwise adversely affecting an individual’s employment/educational opportunities.
The College strives to provide a work and learning environment free from verbal, physical and visual (signs, posters, pictures or documents) harassment or behavior that may be offensive and not protected by the right of academic freedom. Everyone at the College must be sensitive to the individual rights of faculty, students, and staff. This policy applies to conduct in the classroom or office as well as conduct outside of the classroom or office while engaged in activities that are within the course and scope of employment. (e.g., on business trips, at social events, etc.) or educational programs or activities.
Sexual Harassment (Scope)
Sexual harassment may include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature. No member of the college community shall indicate, either explicitly or implicitly, that the refusal to submit to sexual advances on the part of a member of the faculty, staff, or students will adversely affect that person’s position, employment, or educational standing. Similarly, no member of the college community shall extend preferential treatment in exchange for sexual favors or conduct.
Sexual harassment may also include unwelcome sexual flirtations, advances or propositions, verbal abuse of a sexual nature, unnecessary touching of an individual, graphic or verbal comments about an individual’s body, sexually degrading descriptions, a display in the workplace of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, sexually explicit or offensive jokes, or physical assault. Classroom materials of an explicit or potentially offensive nature that are directly relevant to the subject matter and goals of the course may be exempt from this guideline because of academic freedom rights. As necessary, the Academic Freedom Committee may be consulted when such questions arise. This policy applies to unwelcome conduct directed to persons of the opposite sex and to persons of the same sex.
Academic freedom in research, teaching, and publication is fundamental to the advancement of truth and learning for faculty and students. Freedom of thought and expression is essential to any institution of higher learning. Universities and colleges exist not only to transmit existing knowledge; they also interpret, explore, and expand that knowledge by testing the old and investigating the new. Free speech is not simply an aspect of the educational enterprise—it is a precondition of the academic enterprise itself.
MSMU affirms the values of free and open exchange of ideas and the creation and dissemination of knowledge. We recognize and uphold the principles of academic freedom. To sustain such freedom and openness requires objectivity, trust, and confidence free of coercion, intimidation, or exploitation. Members of the College community are entitled to freedom in carrying out research and in publishing/performances/artistic expression. They are also entitled to freedom of teaching, learning, and discussion; as well as freedom from institutional censorship. Academic freedom carries with it the duty to use that freedom in a manner consistent with the scholarly obligation to base research and presentation on an honest search for knowledge.
Complaint Procedure for Allegations of Harassment or Discrimination
Any person who believes that he or she is a victim of discrimination or harassment by any member of the college community or other person connected with or contracted by the College should immediately contact the Director of Human Resources or one of the trained MSMU Grievance Officers.
Witness-instigated complaints: Faculty, staff, or students who are aware that a violation of this policy has occurred shall advise the Director of Human Resources or one of the Grievance Officers about this information, so an investigation can be conducted.
Upon receipt of a verbal or written complaint alleging harassment or discrimination, the Director of Human Resources (or designee) will file a written report and begin an investigation in a timely manner. The investigation will be conducted in accord with existing legal requirements, as well as college policies and procedures governing students, faculty, and staff. Fundamental to this process is the college’s commitment to due process and academic freedom.
Confidentiality regarding these proceedings will be respected within the boundaries of state and federal law. Complaints will be treated in a confidential manner to the extent feasible.
Prohibition Against Retaliation
A person who initiates a complaint or participates in an investigation of a complaint under this policy will not be subject to any retaliatory action. The College takes seriously any violation of the prohibitions against discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Disciplinary action for any such violation may be taken up to and including discharge (in the case of faculty or staff) or expulsion (in the case of a student).
About This Policy
This policy applies with equal force to all faculty, staff, and students of the College. Strict adherence to it will help preserve the atmosphere of professionalism and mutual respect that permits each of us to better serve the College and its students.
It is a statement of our intent to maintain a harassment-free workplace and a professional environment at all times. It does not provide greater or lesser rights than applicable law provides.
For any grievances regarding the policy, please contact
Dr. Jane Lingua, Vice President for Student Affairs 310.954.4130
Dr. Mari Wadsworth, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs 310.954.4130
Dr. Mary Boyce, Provost and Academic Vice President 310.954.4016
Fr. George O’Brien, English Department Chair 310.954.4281
Roxanne Roske, Director of Human Resources 310.954.4037